Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli - J'attendrai

I just ran across a Jazz musician who I'd never encountered before: "Django" Reinhardt, perhaps the first significant European Jazz artist.  There's a lot about him at Infogalactic, but in addition to his musical creds, he was a Gipsy jazz musician in occupied France during the war.  The Nazis hated both gipsys (and killed boxcar loads of them) but hated jazz as well.  He survived because there were a number of Nazi officers who actually liked the music, including Luftwaffe officer Dietrich Schulz-Köhn who was known as "Doctor Jazz" (!):
However, it's Kubrick's interest in jazz-loving Nazis that represents his most fascinating unrealized war film. The book that Kubrick was handed, and one he considered adapting soon after wrapping Full Metal Jacket, was Swing Under the Nazis, published in 1985 and written by Mike Zwerin, a trombonist from Queens who had performed with Miles Davis and Eric Dolphy before turning to journalism. The officer in that Strangelovian snapshot was Dietrich Schulz-Koehn, a fanatic for "hot swing" and other variations of jazz outlawed as "jungle music" by his superiors. Schulz-Koehn published an illegal underground newsletter, euphemistically referred to as "travel letters," which flaunted his unique ability to jaunt across Western Europe and report back on the jazz scenes in cities conquered by the Fatherland. Kubrick's title for the project was derived from the pen name Schulz-Koehn published under: Dr. Jazz.

The Intarwebz are a wonderful place.

UPDATE 16 August 2017 17:28: Here's a short documentary on how Reinhardt survived the War.


padriac be damned said...

Just where have you been? They're some of the best musicians I'll ever hear, just a little dated, is all.

libertyman said...

Great music history lesson tonight. I hadn't thought of Stephane Grappelli and his distinctive style of playing for years.
Well done.

Borepatch said...

Padriac, I guess I just need to get out more.